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Indonesia searches for bodies in wake of tsunami and volcano disaster

Reuters

Indonesian officials are still searching for survivors and bodies as the death toll mounts to 179 after a volcano erupted and a tsunami hit a group of remote islands. The disasters occurred in two separate incidents, all less than 24 hours apart.

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"When the tsunami struck there were dozens of fishermen out at sea," said West Sumatra disaster management head Harmensyah, referring to Monday's tsunami. "Their bodies were found the next morning floating on the water or cast ashore on the beach."

Harmensyah said that some people may have fled to the mountains, but that the disaster management team needed to account for the missing as soon as possible.

Thousands are homeless and many are missing as entire villages were swept away by the waves.

Officials said that a 7.7 magnitude earthquake also struck in the remote Mentawai islands.

On the island of Java, another 25 people were killed after Mount Merapi erupted on Tuesday, as thousands had to move to temporary shelters.

Medical personnel are en route to the natural disaster sites via helicopter, but a break in communication to the islands has hampered the operation.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cut short his visit to Vietnam because of the disasters, while US President Barack Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a boy, pledged US help.

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